Oct 15, 2011

Delray Beach Man with Alzheimer's Takes Off in Car

All Alzheimer's caregivers can learn a lesson from this story.

By Bob DeMarco
Alzheimer's Reading Room

Ironically, Dotty and I were driving on Interstate 95 when we saw the Silver Alert for Gerald Rosenwater.

I actually said out loud, here we go again. Dotty asked, are you talking to yourself? I answered, yes.

I figured another person suffering from dementia was on the loose, wandering, missing.

Late tonight, I found out I was right.

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Lesson number one, don't leave the keys in the ignition, the car running, and a person living with dementia in the car when you go into a store.

Lesson number two, before you hire someone to care for a person with dementia, make sure they have been trained, and know the behaviors of persons living with dementia.

In this case, 60 percent of persons living with Alzheimer's will wander. So, any and all AD caregivers, of any type, should know and understand that it is more likely that a person suffering from Alzheimer's will take off if given the opportunity, than it is that they will sit tight.

In fact, it is very likely that it will happen to you.

Famous words after an Alzheimer's patient wanders away and gets lost, "well they never wandered away before".

Maybe I am not making myself clear on this issue so consider this:
  • Of those lost more than 24 hours, only a third survive.
  • Of those lost more than 72 hours, only 20 percent survive.

Here is what just happened in Delray Beach.

An "aide" drove 80 year old Gerald Rosenwater to Costco. George is an Alzheimer's patient. When they arrived in the parking lot, George refused to go into the store. Ever had that happen?

The aide decided to go into store. She also felt comfortable leaving the car keys in the ignition and the car running. Why did she do that? So George could sit there in air conditioning.

George was finally found a couple of hours later about 60 miles away from the Costco. Heading south toward Miami.

Oh did I mention? George had not driven an automobile in years.


Dotty hasn't driven in almost 8 years. I wonder, can she still drive? I feel pretty confident that if I leave her alone in the car, with the keys in the ignition, and the car running, I am going to find out.

When I was in grammar school they use to say, "a word to the wise is sufficient".

60 percent of Alzheimer's patients wander.

Dotty and I currently live in Delray Beach.

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Bob DeMarco is the Founder of the Alzheimer's Reading Room and an Alzheimer's caregiver. The blog contains more than 2,910 articles with more than 652,100 links on the Internet. Bob lives in Delray Beach, FL.

Original content Bob DeMarco, the Alzheimer's Reading Room